Content warning: This article discusses mental illness and suicide
In 2012, my school friend Anna took her own life. She had struggled with her mental health for many years, but despite loving relationships with her family and friends, felt unable to share her struggles.
Her passing made me think about what we could do to help others like Anna.
That’s how Pai Mind Day came about. Marking Anna’s birthday on 10 July by taking positive action felt important. To conjure something good out of our grief.
We started small. It began as a way of raising much-needed funds for Mind, a charity important to Anna’s family. Years on, Pai Mind Day has grown into a platform to promote mental health understanding, and to help fund organisations that do brilliant work in this space.
To date we have raised thousands of pounds, which has specifically funded first conversations with medical health experts and ensuring access to these services for all.
Already, the world has changed since Anna passed. There’s been a shift from an awareness of mental health to a compassionate understanding. I believe there is far less judgement towards those struggling with mental health.
But there is still so much work to be done to unlock greater access to these support networks.
It’s something Anna’s family have been tirelessly campaigning for too. On the 10th anniversary of Anna’s death I joined her parents, David and Margaret, on one day of their 100-mile walk along the South Downs Way, a favourite place of Anna’s, to raise money for Mind – and to continue the conversation around mental health understanding.
Anna’s mother said something important. That walking and talking is something small but powerful that we can do every day for our mental wellbeing. Often though, starting can be the hardest part. And that’s why we want to help as many people as we can to take that initial step.
As a small business, we just couldn’t do Pai Mind Day without you. So thank you for every order you’ve placed, every post you’ve shared, and every product you buy on Anna’s special day.
Your purchases make our donations possible – but of course, if you’re all stocked up or would prefer to donate to Mind directly, you’ll find them and a list of other excellent charities here. We know they’d so appreciate your support.
And while money is very much needed, there’s another way you can contribute to the cause, which won’t cost a thing. I truly believe even the busiest among us can find ten minutes to spare. Ten minutes to check in on someone you love – or to reach out to someone if it’s you who needs to talk.
On Pai Mind Day, I ask you to do just that. Send a message, write a card or call someone and check in to see how they really are. You never know the difference it could make.
Find out how we’re supporting mental health this Pai Mind Day here
For mental health support and resources, please visit Mind or call their Infoline 0300 123 3393.